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New Top 5 Boys Basketball Ranking; McDonald is MVP of Week; Bolden Nominated for All-American Game

The River City News/ Boys Basketball Top 5:

  1. 1. Covington Catholic (14-4): Prior to the season, some felt there was only one elite team in the Ninth Region and that team was Newport Central Catholic, but the defending state champions proved they are not to be overlooked when they took out the Thoroughbreds at The Bank of Kentucky Center last Friday night, 58-48. Since that win, the Colonels have also collected victories against Ryle and Conner at home and have solidified their place at the top of the rankings.

  2. 2. Newport Central Catholic (13-3): After being knocked from the top by Cov Cath, New Cath has taken their frustration out on smaller schools in the All A Classic Tournament, thrashing Villa Madonna and Heritage by nearly 60 points each. On Friday night, they are scheduled to face Beechwood in the semifinals of the All A which should prove to be a little stiffer competition for the Breds. New Cath still has two high-profile matchups left on their schedule when they play at Holmes and then host the top team in the state, Louisville Trinity. Both of those games are in February.

  3. 3. Holmes (15-4): The Bulldogs were flying high after winning 11 games in a row, but their luck ran out when they were stifled by Mason County on Tuesday night. Holmes head coach Mike Listerman said that playing 14 games in 31 days wore on his players.

    “We hit the wall last night,” he said on Wednesday afternoon. “The shots didn't go and the defense wasn't very good. You could say we were due for a downer and we just have to make sure we don't let that happen on Friday night.” Holmes plays top-ranked Cov Cath on Friday night at The Bank of Kentucky Center.

  4. 4. Dixie (13-4): Dixie has quietly amassed 10 straight wins, earning two more over the past week with wins over Ludlow and Conner. The Colonels were shelled in their first game of the season to New Cath, but they have yet to play Holmes or Cov Cath yet, both of which remain on their schedule. Dixie will travel to Scott County where they will play Lafayette in the Scott County Tournament.
  5. 5. Scott (10-9): Scott has been a streaky team so far this season, and things looked rough for the Eagles earlier last week after losing three in a row and being crushed by Boone County, but Scott rallied at The Bank of Kentucky Center last Friday evening when they beat Campbell County and looked good doing it. The only knock to that impressive win was that the Camels were without their starting center and rebound monster Matt Wilson. Sophomore guard Jake Ohmer continues to show off his scoring prowess but has also increasingly made his teammates more of a scoring option too by sharing the basketball when the team needs him to. Guards Blake Schneider and Andrew Trame have played well along side Ohmer. Scott hosts Silver Grove on Saturday in their next game.

Receiving Votes: Boone County, Campbell County.

New Cath's Drew McDonald is LaRosa's MVP of the Week

Newport Central Catholic forward Drew McDonald was named the LaRosa's MVP of the Week for his achievements on the basketball court and on the golf course this season.

McDonald, who will play both sports next season at Northern Kentucky University, is a four-year starter for the Thoroughbreds and has scored over 1,000 points in his time at New Cath. His athletic honors include being named to the Kentucky All A All-Tournament team where his team won the state tournament in 2014. He was also named as first-team All-NKY and second-team All-State.

As a golfer, Drew is a five-year starter and holds several school records. He averaged 74 this season and was the individual All A Regional and Kentucky state champion. He was also the NKAC Conference Player of the Year and was tournament champion of the Kentucky senior all-star tournament.

McDonald also excels academically with a 4.66 weighted GPA and is 1st-team academic all-state as well as a member of the National Honor Society.

“In addition to the obvious basketball and academic skills that Drew possesses, he has become an outstanding leader. Drew works extremely hard and has improved every year. He does whatever he can to make the team better,” said NCC head basketball coach Ron Dawn.

Holmes's Beetle Bolden a Nominee for All-American Game

Holmes senior guard James Bolden was one of four Kentucky basketball players that have been nominated to the McDonald's High-School All-American game in Chicago. Finalists to the game will be announced at 6 p.m. on January 28 on ESPNU.

If chosen, Bolden, who has committed to play for West Virginia in 2015, will play in the All-American Game at the United Center in Chicago on April 1. The other Kentucky players that were nominated are Camron Justice of Knott County Central, Aric Holman of Owensboro, and Raymond Spalding of Louisville Trinity.

His coach, Mike Listerman, said that he is proud of Bolden's accomplishments but pointed out that him being selected to play in the game remains somewhat of a long shot.

“We're very, very happy for Beetle to get this nomination but everybody has to understand that there are over 800 players nominated for the game. It's a tremendous honor, but then you go from 800 to 24,” Listerman said of the selection process.

Bolden started the season slowly, but has come into form over the course of the Bulldogs' 11-game winning streak, highlighted by a 40-point performance at Scott in early January. The point guard is averaging over 20 points-per-game on the season and remains one of the higher-profile players in the region.

Coach Listerman served as an assistant coach in the 2007 McDonald's All-American Game in Louisville for the 30th Anniversary of the event.

Bolden and Holmes take on the top-ranked team in the area, Covington Catholic on Friday night at The Bank of Kentucky Center on the campus of Northern Kentucky University.

Bolden joins future teammate power forward Esa Ahmad of Shaker Heights (Cleveland) who has also been nominated and also has signed to play for West Virginia and head coach Bob Huggins.

“It would be really neat. It would be a tremendous experience for him to do that. I think he's got a shot and certainly signing with West Virginia is not going to hurt him. That's going to carry some weight,” Listerman said.

-Bryan Burke, associate editor

Photo: James "Beetle" Bolden after announcing his intent to play at West Virginia last year/RCN file